|New Year's Eve 2011/12|
If I'd been thinking I'd have written this to post on Boxing Day -- but I wasn't so here goes. In Britain Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, has many different theories as to its origin. The truth is no one really knows. And I get the feeling a lot of people don't really know what to do with the day. Often it's a day for visiting relatives or for them to visit you -- but I suspect that for many it's a day to recover from the day before!!
For many years it was a day in which I indulged in the pleasure of cooking for dinner guests. The main course was always Salmon en Croute. If I were a really really good gourmet cook it would have been the Russian dish -- coulibiac, the eating of which was one of my all time greatest eating experiences. This year I will be having the salmon en croute for New Year's Eve because visitors are coming here instead of us going 'there'...
I chose a salmon dish because I figured it would appeal to people after the traditional heaviness of Christmas Day. So I could devote the day to the kitchen and preparations. One year, for some reason known only to the angels, The Man chose this day for a special project of his. This project was the restoration of a very very old, very damaged model sailing ship that he had found in the dusty old corner of a second-hand shop. I think he paid 15 pounds for it. And where do you think he decided to pursue this project? On the kitchen table -- and there he was, ensconced with this dilapidated ship and newspaper spread out underneath, etc. etc., when I came in to work on filleting and encasing and otherwise preparing my fishy friend.
I have a reasonable size kitchen, but not extensive counter space, but I managed to make enough workspace in a corner of the room and set to work hacking and skinning and flouring and rolling out dough. The kitchen was utterly confusing and in total chaos, but we were happily working away and enjoying our very different projects! Oblivious to the fact that not very far away in the other room Granny was holding down the family fort, which was two young boys.
Imperiously, Granny suddenly swept into the kitchen -- no one could do 'imperious' better than Granny! "I'm going to make the boys some lunch", she declared.
"NO" I thoughtlessly retorted! I'd completely forgotten about the practicalities of family life! My thoughts were that everything was covered in either flour or ship bits and there wasn't any room for anything like other people let alone lunch fixings!
In the end, of course, I relented ... I had to really -- and after all Granny the Imperial wasn't demanding that I fix lunch -- only that she was going to do it. So I put down my rolling pin and graciously relented and she took care of her grandsons stomachs.
It used to be that absolutely everywhere was closed on Boxing Day -- but now it is more and more becoming a day the after Christmas sales begin and more and more people venture into the High Street to see what's on offer that wasn't two days before. Personally, I am too exhausted after Christmas Day to want to pound the shopping pavements and most years lack the enthusiasm for another day of gourmet cooking. The children are now grown and I'm eager for one of those boys to take over the planning and execution of culinary celebrations!
Here is a menu I prepared one year:
Fresh melon balls with shrimp in a sour cream and fresh mint sauce.
Fresh Leek Soup with rolls
Salmon en Croute with wild rice and Hollandaise
French fried parsnips
Lemon chiffon pie
Cheese and biscuits
Coffee, Mints, liqueurs